Speakers are the voice of any audio/video system, the final step in the signal chain before the sound reaches our ears. Also, they exhibit more variability in tonal quality than just about any other component, which is why many consider them the most important part of any audio system. To help you narrow the search for your next speaker system, we present a list of the best speakers reviewed on AVS Forum during 2017.
Our speaker reviews can be placed in one of two categories: 2-channel or surround/immersive systems, with and without one or more subwoofers. The best speakers we’ve reviewed this year are organized in this manner here. Within each group, they are ordered by list price, from least to most expensive.
The specified prices are based on the entire speaker system used in the review, even if not all components were being evaluated. In addition, the price of each component is identified separately, so you can see how much of the total each one represents. Finally, the prices here represent the specific finish of the speaker cabinets we had; prices might be slightly different depending on the finish you select. For example, a piano gloss black or white finish might be more expensive than a basic wood-grain finish.
So, without further ado, here are the best speakers we’ve reviewed on AVS Forum in 2017. Keep in mind that we have a few more models in house, and if we finish any more reviews of top-performing speakers before the end of the year, we’ll add them to this list. So be sure to check back here before the year winds down completely.
Definitive Technology Demand D7 2.0 System ($499/pair)
Reviewing the Demand D7s was a pleasure. The pair provided a detailed and engaging listening experience free from audible distortion. A wide soundstage, accurate imaging, and clear treble were strong suits. When combined with a competent subwoofer, these stand-mount speakers serves as superb satellites. Whether they are used in a 2.0, 2.1, or surround-sound application, the Demand D7 bookshelf speakers from Definitive Technology deliver sonic excellence, making them an AVS Forum Top Choice for 2017.
KEF Q350 2.0 System ($650/pair)
The Q350 offers an affordable option for those seeking the sonic advantages of the concentric Uni-Q driver. When playing full range at modest volume levels, a pair of Q350s provide an accurate and engaging audiophile listening experience. And when used with a subwoofer and bass management, they become high-performance satellites that can play loud and clean. They are well-behaved and sound neutral without the need for equalization. If you appreciate speakers that don’t “tint” the sound, you’ll enjoy the Q350s.
ELAC Debut B6 & S12EQ 2.1 System ($980 as reviewed)
The ELAC Debut B6s are so good relative to their price, they raise the bar for what people should expect for their money. Granted, they need room correction or EQ to sound their best, and these days there are other budget options on the market. However, at $280/pair, the only way to describe the sound of Debut B6 is “shockingly great.”
It’s rare for a sub-$500 bookshelf speaker to be fully satisfying in the bass department while offering refined midrange and treble response—even at higher volumes, but the Debut B6 does it effortlessly. Anyone who cares about audio fidelity and wants to spend $500-600 on a soundbar should seriously consider investing in an affordable AVR and a pair of B6s instead and building a system from there. I guarantee you’ll be amazed at how Andrew Jones was able to coax such great performance out of a speaker that sells for so little.
Emotiva Airmotiv T1 & BasX S12 2.2 System ($1497 as reviewed)
At $700/pair, Emotiva’s Airmotiv T1 towers are easily among the best deals out there for audio and AV enthusiasts seeking speakers that do not compromise, even when compared to options that cost considerably more. When used as a part of a high-fidelity stereo system, with or without subwoofers, Emotiva’s Airmotiv T1 Towers are more than up to the task of delivering the sort of performance you’d expect from speakers costing a thousand bucks or more per pair.
Power Sound Audio MT-110 & 15V 2.1 System ($2300 as reviewed)
System: 2 MT-110 ($675 each), 1 15V subwoofer ($950)
AV enthusiasts will find much to love in a 2.1 system featuring the Power Sound Audio MT-110 speakers and 15V subwoofer. You will not find a pair of tower speakers with similar performance at anywhere near this price point. You simply do not find this sort of capability in the prettier, smaller, but ultimately less capable mainstream products of larger brands.
If you are into 2-channel listening and like to crank the volume, the combo of MT-110 speakers and 15V sub will not let you down. Plus, keep in mind that this gear represents the entry level for Power Sound Audio; the company has options for folks who want more powerful speakers and subs that dig deeper. Oh, and did I mention the company’s products are made in the USA by an independent company? Great performance, fair price, honest specs, and it’s made in America by entrepreneurs. What more could you want?
PSB Imagine T3 2.0 System ($7500/pair)
After spending lots of quality time with the Imagine T3s, the conclusion is obvious: These PSB beauties represent the pinnacle of audio fidelity that I’ve experienced in my home. No other speaker I’ve reviewed provides as complete a package in terms of performance and aesthetics. The cost of the Imagine T3 towers is probably out of reach for audio enthusiasts on a limited budget. However, they represent a solid long-term investment; they truly are endgame speakers. If you buy a pair, it’s likely you’ll never need to upgrade again.
Emotiva Airmotiv 7.2 System ($2284 as reviewed)
This superb 7.2 speaker system was driven by Emotiva BasX electronics, including the MC-700 AV pre/pro ($599) and A-700 7-channel power amp ($699), for a total system price of $3582—soup to nuts—which is a genuine bargain for a system with this much capability. Overall, the performance with stereo, 5.1, and 7.1 sources is so good, the entire system deserves an AVS Forum Top Choice 2017 award.
Definitive Technology BP9000 Series 7.0.4 System ($3794 as reviewed)
With its BP9040 and BP9060 tower speakers, Definitive Technology gives you bass extension, sonic accuracy, and exceptional imaging. Unless you have a very large space and typically watch movies at very high volume levels, these speakers have more than enough headroom. Definitive does have step-up models for situations in which more output is required. But trust me, for most music and movie lovers, these speakers have what it takes. This 7.0.4 system delivers a complete immersive home-theater experience.
SVS Sound Prime Elevation Height Speakers in 7.1.4 System ($4150 as reviewed)
SVS Prime Elevation speakers are great for adding 3D immersive audio to your system. Their performance and price make them a top choice for getting the most out of Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro3D. Adding height channels to a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 setup puts you inside a movie scene or in a concert hall or jazz club. With Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro3D, your system can realistically render rain hitting a roof, an airplane flyover, and many other effects. Done right, result is next-level surround sound you have to hear to believe. Based on what I heard over the course of this review, if you have SVS Prime Elevation speakers handling height effects, you’ll enjoy one of the best 3D immersive audio experiences you can have in the comfort of your home.